What it would be like to live with such wealth, that you could create, or have created for you, a home that had it all and even more? This past weekend, my youngest and I visited the grand home of James J. Hill, on Saint Paul, Minnesota’s historic Cathedral Hill.
We embarked upon an informative and educational venture into the dream home of one of Minnesota’s most important citizens. He founded the Great Northern Railway
He was a tireless “workaholic” and created a vast fortune that is evident throughout the state. More information can be found here Minnesota Historic Society The rest of my entry will be photos and commentary of impressions I left with.
The grand stairway, with its gorgeous woodwork took my breath away. Photos do not do the grandeur of this spectacle justice. the entire house has carved woodwork that was carved by and artist that left his likeness in certain pieces.
The home had the latest technology of the time, mainly electricity, with a gas backup and a central heating system that still works today. The lighting is designed to give one the feel of what it would have been like living in the home at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. Large windows provided natural light, which is evident where applicable.
The Man was involved in nearly all of the industries that experienced growth during the industrial revolution. I am still processing the entire event. I will return again in the spring the get more from the exterior and the view of the Mississippi River Valley from the Home. Until then
It was slightly more than 20 years ago. A delightful summer afternoon, ironically this memory includes me mowing the lawn. Ironic because I because I mow lawns for a living in the summer. My friend John is walking by. I stop what I’m doing to visit. He tells me about a new type of treatment program that is solely based on the spiritual principles found in the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous. At this point, having a little more than 2 years of continuous sobriety/clean time. I thought, boy I sure wish I could go there.
Well little did I know at that time, what the mighty Jester of the Cosmos had written in the book of my life. On November 16th, 1998 I entered the program at The Retreat.
The first thing that hit me was, during a Big Book study with Roger B. He says. “I hope you’re DONE and not just here to take a break.” Woah, just woah. Yes, I’m so done. The next thing was again Roger B. “Are you willing to believe in the possibility?” That a Higher Power could restore me to sanity. Yes! That would be the beginning of an intention to improve my conscious contact with God “as I understand God” which is impossible to comprehend. The basis of which is how I am willing to carry on without chemicals.
Fast forward to today. I have discovered the enlightened self-interest of, and the key to staying sober is helping others to recover. Wait, how can I help? What do I have to offer? Well as it turns out I have my experience. Which through sharing that, I am able to stay in recovery from addiction. I have found something else even more valuable than my experience. It is worth more than any material or financial commodity. It costs nothing but requires an immense amount of energy if offered with intention.
The most valuable thing is My Attention
Giving freely of my attention is the most generous thing I can do. With attention I discover understanding and that is what I get in return.
And boy, do I have some. Astronomical in size comes to mind. What brought this on? One might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. If you have been following along, you know of my desire to help. Well, it has become painfully apparent that I can do more.
Through reading blogs, scripture, news and so on. The question arises, what have you done for “the least of mine”. Not a lot I must admit. Lately, though I have given some dollars to those requesting “anything helps” at intersections.
I had, in the past, thought that these people were actually just doing this for their job and that they probably made more money than I do. Upon reflection, I found within that this was devoid of compassion.
Another area in my sorted life, where I find room for improvement is in refraining from the judgment of others. This has been brought about reading from Thomas Merton’s No Man is an Island “If we are to love sincerely, and with simplicity…We must somehow strip ourselves of our greatest illusions about ourselves, frankly recognize in how many ways we are unlovable, descend into the depths of our being until we come to the basic reality that is in us, and learn to see that we are lovable after all in spite of everything”, and that we are loved precisely because of our flaws.
As I emerge from the other side, I am better able to love, any and all. And, most important understand.
I wouldn’t mind having a conversation with this innocent fellow.
Have you ever been stricken with a sudden drastic change in appearance? One where you just want to avoid seeing or especially talking to people. I had that happen to me last night. Eating my late night huge bowl of cereal. When I realize my front tooth was detached from where it belongs.
I have been what I like to refer to as an ideal dental patient. It is however expensive to keep up for me. Turns out a filling failed and lead to the whole thing coming apart. Oh well, I’ll get back to the dentist.
My point here is I was consumed all day with, thinking about it. What shall I do if I encounter anyone? I’ll just get my work done and hide out until I can get the damn thing fixed. I was forgetful, inattentive, distracted, my whole day was like I was not of this earth.
I found though, that I was more aware of myself and actually enjoyed my work day tremendously. I slowed down and noticed how much smoother my day went than the previous day.
This has definitely been a wake-up call to take care of things I’ve been putting off. I just want to keep working and taking care of my customers, and I can wait until more convenient time to get these things attended to. NOT!
Well, I’ll be hiding out until I can get my tooth/teeth taken care of. Have a great weekend!